Everything was going Big Red’s way against the No. 5 team in the country, the Indiana Hoosiers, Monday night inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska, whose players were wearing symbolic uniforms to honor and celebrate Black History Month, was hitting shots inside the paint and behind the 3-point line. The crowd was engaged and making noise. But when Indiana cut the Huskers’ lead from 12 to four early in the fourth quarter, Nebraska was looking for an answer so an upset win didn’t slip away. The Huskers looked no further than their veteran guard, Sam Haiby.
Nebraska went on a titanic 17-0 run in the fourth that turned a 52-48 lead into a 69-48 edge, and Haiby scored eight of that 17 with aggressive attack after aggressive attack. Indiana’s guards couldn’t stay in front of the second-team All-Big Ten selection from a year ago. The Haiby-led surge helped Nebraska knock off Indiana, 72-55, and it’ll be a win that looks awfully pretty on the Huskers’ résumé as the NCAA Tournament approaches.
The win was the Huskers’ first over Indiana since Feb. 17, 2017, and snapped a six-game losing streak to the Hoosiers. Nebraska is now 19-6 overall and 8-6 against Big Ten teams. The Hoosiers fall to 18-4, 10-2.
The Huskers got their revenge over Indiana, which won the first meeting 72-65 in January. What was the difference? To Williams, it was steals. In the first game, Indiana had 13 of them. But on Monday night, that number shrunk to seven.
“Those really convert to points off turnovers more easily, so I thought we did a better job of that,” Williams said after the game. “I thought our ball-screen defense was a little more consistent and what we needed it to be. We contested shots and made them take harder and contested shots this time around.”
Nebraska held Indiana to just 2-of-23 from 3-point range. The Huskers’ had shooting troubles of their own, except at the free-throw line where they went an ugly 9-of-21.
It was an all-around effort for the Huskers offensively, though. Five players scored in double-figures, which is the first time that’s happened this season in conference play. Haiby and Jaz Shelley each led the team with 14 points. Haiby scored 10 of her 14 in the fourth when her team needed her the most and also hauled down four boards with four assists. Shelley went 3-of-7 from 3 while adding six rebounds and three assists.
Allison Weidner added 11 points—six of which came in the first quarter—while Isabelle Bourne and Alexis Markowski each poured in 10 points. Markowski notched her fifth double-double of the season with 15 rebounds, which tied her career-high.
The contributions came from everywhere. Just like the head coach wants.
“Allison really helped a lot there early and gave us that shot in the arm we needed with some energy off the bench and some scoring,” Williams said. “Then obviously in the fourth quarter, Sam had 10 points and came through big and made some big plays throughout. Even the two threes that Ashley Scoggin hit there, they weren’t back-to-back maybe, but pretty close. Bella Cravens had an incredible offensive-rebound putback when we needed it in traffic.”
Nebraska’s largest lead was 12 after a Shelley 3 with 5:59 left in the third. But Indiana cut its deficit to five late in the third and then four right away in the final stanza. The Hoosiers answered like a top-10 team would.
But then that 17-0 run started. Along with Haiby’s eight points, Shelley added six during that stretch. The crowd got louder after each defensive stop and transition bucket. Then Indiana head coach Teri Moren was given a technical foul for continuing to argue a call. The avalanche of Husker makes and cheers continued to bury the Hoosiers.
Nebraska was playing with confidence and staying in attack mode during the run, Williams said.
“I thought we were strong with the ball during that stretch,” she said. “They were really physical and coming down to double-team in our post, and we didn’t panic and turn it over. We just stayed steady and kicked it back out. We shared the basketball and it was fun to watch that little stretch.”
Monday night was the second top-10 win of the season for Williams’ team. The first came in January at home against No. 8 Michigan. It was also the first win over a top-5 team since 2010 against LSU.
The home-court advantage that the Huskers enjoy is real, Haiby said.
“I think we all kind of had a hunch that this was going to be a special year,” she said. “I think we definitely came out and proved ourselves in different places. But we’re tough to beat at home, and we showed that tonight. When the fans are like they were tonight, it was really fun and it’s been great so far.”
Nebraska hasn’t went to the NCAA Tournament since 2018. The Huskers now have a solid résumé and could add more with its final four-game stretch of the regular season against Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Northwestern, which have a combined 18-36 record in conference play. Minnesota and Northwestern will be at home while Penn State, Nebraska’s next opponent on Thursday, and Wisconsin are away. None of those teams currently have a winning record in the Big Ten—Northwestern’s 6-6 mark is the best of the four.
“This is really something right now that people should take notice of,” Williams said of her team’s season. “Obviously, a couple wins over top-ten teams in the country is something I think will help build anybody’s résumé, but we feel like we are able to show that we can compete with the best teams in the country, and we want to keep doing that.
“We need to be consistent with that, so that’s our challenge, to go on the road for our next ball game and try to back this up with an even better performance.”